Saturday, December 31, 2016


I can still remember writing my end of the year reflection this time last year. Simply put, it had been a GOOD year for us- a year of adventures and new life and fun times and business endeavors and growth. And I wrote a brief recap of all these things, thanking God, and expressing excitement over the year to follow. Now, I've been thanked and recognized for being an honest writer. So allow me to be honest.

I was not fully honest when I wrote that post.

I was thankful for how GOOD that year was.
I was excited about what was to come.
But mostly, I was terrified.

You see, I hold the title of "World's Worst Person at Dealing with Change." To me, change robs me of everything comfortable and controlled and consistent in my life. And 2016 had a big change in store for us. I felt our little family of three had just learned how to function as a unit; and here I was, uprooting all that was known and throwing us into the unknown.

A baby.

How were we going to function now? How many things in our daily lives would have to shift, or even be sacrificed? It wasn't just the newborn stage I was terrified of (though that's a huge part of it- add "World's Worst At Parenting a Newborn" to my list of titles), it was the idea of the unknown that had me worried.

But regardless of my worry, 2016 came. While the first few months felt much like my "normal," May hit. And it hit with everything I feared. I will forever remember the summer of 2016 as a very hard season. With every night spent up with a screaming baby, with every glimpse at friends off having summer adventures, with every struggle with a suddenly rebellious three year old, with every day that passed with seemingly nothing accomplished, I felt a pull towards 2015, when things were GOOD. I often wanted a time machine to either take me back to that time, or even to propel me past where I was.

Do you see the flaw here in my logic? The inevitable lesson I had to learn? Because I didn't. And it wasn't until my four year old showed me this flaw that I realized it.

In the summer, I managed to get out of the house and leave my baby boy to take my daughter to two shows, one in Dallas for Beauty and the Beast, and the second at the MISD Performing Arts Center to see The Little Mermaid. While past summers were dedicated to doing many fun things with just the two of us, those two moments were the only opportunities I had to get out and have some mommy/Emma time. I felt a ton of guilt spending so little time with her and worried those two outings would hardly suffice. I would often battle anxiety that she would feel less loved and secure. But I was thankful for those two shows, and it was obvious she had a blast.

Every day, we pass the MISD Performing Arts Center on our way to her school. Each time, without fail, Emma points to it and exclaims, "That's where Ariel lives, Mommy!" Then the visual reminder typically launches us into a conversation about seeing Belle and Ariel, and how much fun we had. A couple of weeks ago, I realized that our trips to see those two shows are the only things she ever mentions about the summer. She never mentions a screaming baby or a mommy breaking down randomly into tears or all the times she had to entertain herself because her mom was too overwhelmed and busy handling her baby bother. When I realized this, I asked her, "Emma, did you enjoy the summer?" Surprisingly, she emphatically nodded her head and said "Yes, it was GOOD!"

It then dawned on me. My daughter had a hard summer. She had to learn how to no longer be the only child in the house. She watched many things around her shift quickly, and none of it was in control. She rebelled against it, threw tantrums, and her normally even, sweet disposition grew angry and upset often. Yet, she never remembers that about the summer. She only remembers the GOOD.

In order to produce GOOD olive oil, the olive tree needs to endure harsh winds, and the fruit must be pressed.
In order to produce GOOD wine, the grapes must struggle in the heat, and the fruit must be crushed.
In order to produce GOOD pottery, the clay must be molded, shaped, and then set into fire.

All of these processes are hard.
All of these processes are GOOD.

2016 has taught me that the two are not mutually exclusive. It was a hard year AND it was a GOOD year. For every long night spent with a screaming baby, there was a morning of cuddles, smiles, and coos. For every house chore that was unfinished, there was a family member or friend to step in and provide relief. For every dinner I simply could not cook, there was a meal provided. For every "missed" vacation or fun "Facebook-worthy" outing, there were milestones, new adventures, and sweet moments. For every time I wanted to go back to 2015, there was a reminder that I didn't get to hold and kiss and cuddle my baby boy until this year. Blessing upon blessings, treasures and love and grace and joy all wrapped up into only 366 days- that was our 2016.

Simply put, it has been a GOOD year for us.

Do you know what else olive oil, wine, and pottery share in common? There is a Designer behind each of those processes. With experienced, tender, nail-marked hands, He crafts with intentionality and purpose. He knows what His work will accomplish. And His work always accomplishes GOOD.

2016 was good, because He is GOOD. Every single blessing, treasure, love, grace, and joy comes from Him, and I am thankful.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Girl in the Looking Glass

Pregnancy is an odd thing. Wonderful, but odd. And it brings out the oddities in others, not in the least the fact that everyone feels suddenly inclined to talk about a woman's body. 

Try something for me. Walk up to any woman who isn't pregnant and tell her she is "all belly," and see the results you get. 

Yeah, I wouldn't dare do that either. 

Think about it- we know that it's inappropriate, even taboo, to comment to a woman about her body. We know that anything beyond a "you look great!" will likely not go over very well. But if a woman is expecting, her growing and changing physique is an acceptable topic of conversation. It's considered normal to tell a pregnant woman just how big she is, or how small she is, or how unproportionate/proportionate the rest of her body is to that growing belly. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the encouraging comments and know they are well intentioned. It is because I enjoy others sharing this journey with me, not to mention that this is my second pregnancy, that I didn't expect to be caught off guard by this once-again changing body of mine. 

I still have much to learn. 

A couple of weeks ago, I needed a dark, suitable dress. My grandfather had just passed away, and I wanted to be sure I was comfortable yet presentable at his services. So my little family of three went to the mall. I walked into a maternity clothing store, picked up several dresses I felt would look presentable, and headed towards the dressing room. My plan was to leave my three year old daughter sitting with her daddy outside the dressing room while I tried on those dresses, but she’s my little shadow. So, into the dressing room went a little girl and a momma in her third trimester.

She mostly sat there in the dressing room at first, playing with anything within her reach. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to her. I was primarily focused on the task at hand. I put on the first dress, did all zipping, tying, and buttoning needed (because maternity clothes have all possible garment pieces incorporated). 

And then I stood there. In front of the mirror. Looking at my profile. And sighed. And smoothed out the material closer to my body in an effort to look less like a tent. Yep, I felt large. And I let my husband know it when I came out to model it. Never fear, however. I had several other dresses. 

So the process happened all over again: dress, zip, tie, button. Once again: sigh and smooth. This happened for five different dresses. 

Do you know what I forgot during that time? My daughter, watching everything momma was doing. I didn't remember that I had an audience, until she did something that shocked me. She stood up, stood in front of the mirror, looked at her little body from side-to-side, sighed, and smoothed her outfit against her. 

Failure- I felt like a complete, utter failure of a mom and female role model for my daughter in that moment. Here was my intelligent, kind, empathetic, funny, fun, and certainly beautiful daughter learning already to criticize her body at the age of three. 

That moment was a wake up call, a reminder that I have so much work to do as a parent. Parenthood really is the most difficult, impossible job in the world. Most days feel like one step forward and several steps back. I am so far from a perfect parent. My progress towards raising strong, Christ-following, confident, giving, loving people is slow most days and wrapped in MUCH grace. I am thankful I know and serve the only One who can provide that grace, and who is perfect. But man, I have much to learn.